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Credit: Insia Haque

Upon my acceptance to Penn a couple of years back, I was overwhelmed by an abundance of snooty comments and remarks relating to the city of Philadelphia, sentiments I could not visualize or understand. “Have fun in Filthadelphia!” or “Don’t get shot!” often followed the congrats I received from most people. Not having had a proper vision of Philadelphia’s layout or culture, I soon fell victim to my peers' alarming warnings and became rather cautious and overly attentive in my first weeks as a Quaker. Of course, the University alerts about various armed robberies or the occasional escaped prisoner did not help this berated city’s case.

While Philadelphia does have its safety hazards and concerning instances, I’ve learned that just may be the price of living in a big city — the sixth biggest in the nation, in fact. Not to fluff up the real and present dangers, but it also should be said that Philadelphia is not much more dangerous than living in San Francisco, Chicago, or Miami, all of which are regarded as highly attractive places to live. 

Many Penn students, coming from places of privilege and very comfortable livelihoods, are quick to harp on and nitpick at Philadelphia’s imperfections. Jokes are constantly made about living in Philadelphia, comparing it to a punishment or drag. Most students are eager to move out, with their eyes set on New York City or Washington D.C., completely blind to the bevy of opportunities offered right here in Philadelphia. What many Penn students seem to overlook is the fact that Philadelphia is an esteemed, bustling, and charming city that many people dream of moving to and working in. Sure, Philadelphia is no tropical paradise, but it serves its purpose as a solid, spiffing city with so much to offer

So, instead of joining my peers in badgering on the City of Brotherly Love, I’d like to take this time to highlight the best parts about living in Philadelphia, and hopefully convince you that we are extremely lucky to be going to school in such a vibrant and lively city. 

The first thing that comes to mind when family or friends ask what I love about Philadelphia is, more often than not, the incredible food scene. Almost every restaurant, cafe, and quick lunch spot I have tried has wowed me, and I’d like to say that that’s a lot coming from a Los Angeles native! Just last year, Philadelphia won four titles in the James Beard Awards, whose prestige can be compared to “the Oscars, but for food.” Beyond the bevy of choices we have near campus in University City, there are countless hidden gems and highly acclaimed restaurants in Rittenhouse, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Manayunk, and more. Philadelphia is known for its diversity, and its countless cuisines are here to prove it.  

Philadelphia’s finest cheesesteaks and soft pretzels are great, and they’re best when eaten in the stands of one of the city’s stadiums. Philadelphians beam with pride every time the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers play. Living in a city with this much athletic pride is not only great for our college experience, but it’s also just a good time. Being able to go to these games, engage in the city’s love for the teams, and enjoy city-wide celebrations is something we’re very lucky to have at Penn, where school-wide athletic spirit is low

Even if you’re not one to appreciate sports, you can easily be one to appreciate Philadelphia’s teams in a different way, perhaps by admiring one of the big Phillies murals on the Walnut Street walk to Center City. Philadelphia’s streets are decorated with many murals and public art, coloring the city and demonstrating civic engagement through the expressions of many local artists. What’s more, Philadelphia also offers many outlets to enjoy fine arts, whether it's through a day spent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art or a night at one of its many popular jazz clubs. Last year, Philadelphia was named the Public Art Capital of America, and the Best City in America for Street Art. And to top these accolades, Philadelphia is constantly celebrated for its memorialized history.

Named the Nation's First World Heritage City, Philadelphia is also known as the birthplace of the United States. In a city with a history so rich, every building, street, and alleyway has a story worth telling. Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin, and the Liberty Bell all make this city the perfect historical backdrop for college students, offering countless opportunities to engage with the legacy of this country’s founding fathers and their work. In particular, Philadelphia’s long history of Black trials and tribulations is a key feature of the city’s development. What’s more, Philadelphia has grown into an unbelievably diverse city, boasting a great range of racial, socioeconomic, cultural, sexual, and religious representation.  

While I have only touched upon some of the things that make Philadelphia so great, every Penn student has the opportunity to explore this big city and discover its many wonders for themselves. Penn’s location, being right across the bridge from Center City, gives all able students the opportunity to just take a brisk walk out of the Penn Bubble and enter a realm of possibilities, opportunities, and new experiences. And for those of you who would rather not get on your feet, the city can just as easily be explored with the comprehensive and convenient SEPTA system

I call on each and every one of you to take a moment the next time you’re about to bash Philadelphia and consider the validity of what you’re about to say, while also acknowledging our privilege of being here. Learn to love this city, for we know it loves you!

SOSE HOVANNISIAN is a College sophomore majoring in communications and minoring in history and consumer psychology from Los Angeles, Calif. Her email is